Apr
13
2009
The Masters: The Defining Moments In Life, You Define Them Or They Define You
By Stephanie Wei under General

My mind exploded yesterday afternoon. Not just once, but several times. I was sitting at the edge of my seat all afternoon. I was thinking, “Wow, do [Angel] Cabrera, [Kenny] Perry and [Chad] Campbell want to give me a heart attack at the ripe age of 26?” It certainly felt like it. It was just that dramatic.

Okay, the ending of the story was anti-climatic compared to the rest of the day, but Angel Cabrera still made history. He became the first South American Masters winner and redeemed the memory of fellow Argentinian and friend, Roberto De Vicenzo, who would have won in 1968 had it not been for a scorecard error.

As for Kenny Perry’s collapse, it was unfortunate and heartwrenching to watch. All day, he was doing everything he could to just “hang-on” to his lead. Without a doubt, he played solid golf. After he attacked the pin on the 16th and tapped-in for birdie, I thought he had it in the bag. Similar to Tiger Woods, the pivotal hole was the 17th.

Perry said, “I had a shot to win..all the way ‘til the 17th.”

He sure did. Also, like Tiger, he finished out with back-to-back bogeys. The circumstances were different, but it’s the way they handled and viewed the situation that made it so telling. While Perry was playing not to lose, Tiger is always playing to win.

At the end of 72 holes, it was a three-way tie for the lead between Perry, Cabrera and Chad Campbell. So, why and how did Cabrera win? He wasn’t the “best” player in the field. He’s overweight, drinks like a fish, and loves his cigars, but he’s easy-going. I could argue that in a team effort both Perry and Campbell handed Cabrera the Green Jacket on a silver platter, but I won’t. Cabrera won it in his own right. He played 72 holes at Augusta better than the rest of the field. It wasn’t perfect, but he contained the damage.

Sure, Cabrera practically shanked an iron shot on the 8th hole. And, sure, on the first sudden death hole, he pushed his driver so far right, it was in the no-fly zone. On his punch-out, he even hit a tree, but with a bit of luck, his ball ended up in the fairway. Under pressure, he managed to get up-and-down for par to force a second play-off hole.

Cabrera said, “Yes, [I was having fun], I was happy with my game and I had confidence. I was just trying to enjoy the moment […] I was easy going. I felt good during the playoff. Obviously one bad shot, it costs you the tournament, but overall, I felt relaxed.”

Before Cabrera, Campbell, and Perry got to the tee on the first play-off hole, I had a feeling Cabrera would prevail. Campbell was clearly shaking in his shoes and Perry had lost his mojo. Meanwhile, Cabrera was just doing his thing, playing his game, hitting one shot at a time. He wasn’t thinking about the outcome.

“This is the Masters. It’s a course that you can do a lot of birdies, a lot of bogeys,” Cabrera said, “A lot of magical things happen. It’s simply the Masters.”

Meanwhile, it was Perry’s tournament to win, and he knew it. It had the makings of a perfect Cinderella story. It would have been too good to be true. He would have become the oldest player to win the Masters, which would have been an amazing feat itself – but it would have also been a record across all professional sports.

It was even tougher to watch Perry lose the play-off because he was so gracious, but it was also why he lost. He didn’t have Cabrera’s laidback mentality and doesn’t have Tiger’s killer instincts.

Afterwards, Perry said, “I fought hard out there. I was nervous. I had a lot of fun being in there. It was a blast for me to fight with them and I just didn’t get it done today. It was my tournament to win and I lost it.”

Perry has never won a major championship, and in all likelihood, he never will. He simply doesn’t have the mental resilience.

It just seems like when it gets down to those deals, I can’t seem to execute,” said Perry “Great players make it happen and your average players don’t. And that’s the way it is.”

Perry let the moment define him.  So did Campbell.  Cabrera just kept playing golf, one shot at a time.